Knowledge for better food systems

Sustainable intensification of agriculture

This book, by Jules Pretty and Zareen Pervez Bharucha, explores the current state of knowledge of sustainable agricultural intensification in a variety of settings, including smallholder farms and industrialised countries.

Publisher’s summary

Sustainable intensification (SI) has emerged in recent years as a powerful new conceptualisation of agricultural sustainability and has been widely adopted in policy circles and debates. It is defined as a process or system where yields are increased without adverse environmental impact and without the cultivation of more land.

Co-written by Jules Pretty, one of the pioneers of the concept and internationally known and respected authority on sustainable agriculture, this book sets out current thinking and debates around sustainable agriculture and intensification. It recognises that world population is increasing rapidly, so that yields must increase on finite land and other resources to maintain food security. It provides the first widely accessible overview of the concept of SI as an innovative approach to agriculture and as a key element in the transition to a green economy. It presents evidence from around the world to show how various innovations are improving yields, resilience and farm incomes, particularly for ‘resource constrained’ smallholders in developing countries, but also in the developed world. It shows how SI is a fundamental departure from previous models of agricultural intensification. It also highlights the particular role and potential of small-scale farmers and the fundamental importance of social and human capital in designing and spreading effective innovations.

 

Reference

Pretty, J. and Bharucha, Z. P., 2018. Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture. Routledge, London and New York.

For more details, see here. See also the Foodsource building block What is sustainable intensification?

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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